It’s comforting to think that the justice system will provide criminal punishment for a person who causes the death of a family member or loved one. But this is not always how events unfold in the state of Georgia. For example, the CEO of a company that sells a defective part that leads to the death of a customer may not receive any criminal punishment. However, they may still receive civil punishment in the form of a wrongful death lawsuit. Working with a Lawrenceville wrongful death lawyer can assist in getting some additional closure.
Our personal injury lawyers here at Ted A. Greve & Associates fight on behalf of clients pursuing wrongful death claims. Our goal is to provide at least some sense of justice on behalf of the deceased even though it may do little in regards to easing the pain. Why should you consider working with our wrongful death attorneys?
- We have decades of experience handling wrongful death claims in Georgia.
- We will guide you along every step of the way.
- We handle all of the tedious legal work so that you can focus entirely on the healing process.
There’s no amount of money that can ever undo the pain of losing a spouse or parent. Even so, you still have a right to seek compensation for the damages you have suffered and will continue to suffer in their absence.
Call us immediately at (800) 693-7833 to discuss the possibility of pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit.
How Is Wrongful Death Defined In The State Of Georgia?
Each state has its own legislation regarding wrongful death claims. In Georgia, we operate according to the Georgia Wrongful Death Act. This document and its addendums help identify parties that can be involved in the claim, what legal grounds exist for pursuing a claim, and the types of damages that can be covered. It defines wrongful death as one that is the result of a crime, negligence, or defective products.
It goes into further detail on these subjects and helps identify the primary legal causes for a wrongful death case. They include:
Intentional homicide is the most obvious example of criminal activity that results in wrongful death. Because of this, it is entirely possible for a defendant to be involved in a criminal case as well as a civil lawsuit, though the outcome of either case does not necessarily correlate with the other.
Nursing home abuse or medical malpractice
Medical professionals and caregivers are expected to maintain a certain duty of care. Neglect, abuse, and certain mistakes are simply not allowed and create a strong foundation for a wrongful death case.
Faulty construction or defective products
Whether it’s the products we use or the buildings we inhabit, the people who design and build these objects also have a certain duty of care.
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
These are among the most common case types we handle in the state of Georgia. A driver who causes a fatal accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is most certainly at fault and can be found liable for the damages caused.
Improper alcohol service
A bartender’s job may be to serve alcohol, but they are also expected to stop this service when the customer appears to be visibly intoxicated. If that customer later dies because of alcohol consumption, then there may be a strong case for a wrongful death lawsuit.
Who Is Qualified To File A Wrongful Death Claim In Georgia?
The Georgia Wrongful Death Act also clearly identifies which parties are eligible for filing a wrongful death case. If you find yourself in this group, then we advise contacting a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Otherwise, we recommend informing the eligible parties so that they may pursue proper legal action.
The surviving spouse is the first in line in terms of authority. It is their responsibility to file a wrongful death case in Georgia if they were still married at the time of death.
In Georgia, it is also the responsibility of the spouse to act as a representative of the children. They are expected to share any damages received with the surviving children. However, the spouse must not receive less than 1/3rd of the recovery amount. This percentage does not change regardless of the number of surviving children.
The above applies to the children of a surviving spouse. If the deceased is divorced, then there is no spouse to act as a representative. In that case, the children are in a position of authority and can file the claim jointly.
This is only applicable in very specific scenarios. In order for a grandchild to be eligible, their parent must have been an original claimant in the wrongful death claim. If that parent then dies during an ongoing claim, then their child will receive their portion of the recovery. Otherwise, a grandchild may not be a recipient of a wrongful death claim.
What Types Of Damages Are Recoverable?
Georgia is somewhat unique in its approach to quantifying damages in a wrongful death claim. Legislature states that the party filing the claim can seek compensation for the full value of the life of the descendant. This is obviously a difficult subject and can vary according to the legal case made by the lawyers, the character evidence provided by the family, and the ultimate decision of the jury. The jury is tasked with determining damage amounts according to the perspective of the deceased rather than the surviving family.
The full value of the deceased’s life is often broken down into two damage categories:
This includes all future earnings lost and the loss of potential services rendered. These are the tangible elements included in the “full value of the deceased’s life”.
These damages are more difficult to express in financial terms and are likewise difficult to prove. They represent the intangible value of life included in the “full value of the deceased’s life”. Their final value is determined by the jury.
Can Surviving Family File For Punitive Damages?
No. Georgia law does not allow claimants to file for punitive damages in a wrongful death claim. The court states that the wrongful death claim itself is intended to punish the defendant and any form of punitive damages would only be redundant.
How Is Negligence Proved In A Wrongful Death Case?
Georgia follows a very standard format when proving negligence in a wrongful death case. It involves four elements that it shares with other types of personal injury claims. They are:
- Duty: The defendant must have had a certain duty in relation to the deceased. This may be a duty of care to keep the deceased safe or a duty to refrain from causing them harm.
- Breach of duty: It must be shown that the defendant breached this expected duty.
- Causation: It must then be shown the breach of duty is what led to the injury or death in the claim.
- Damages: Finally, the plaintiff will need to prove that damages were suffered because of the wrongful death.
How Do You Start A Wrongful Death Claim In Georgia?
This is the easy part. All that you need to do to begin a wrongful death claim in Georgia is contact an experienced attorney. It is the job of the attorney to begin the filing process and handle the majority of the paperwork throughout. But no attorney can begin the claims process if you do not take the time to contact them. That’s why we recommend calling our office as soon as possible so that we can start the process on your behalf.
What Is The Difference Between A Wrongful Death Claim And An Estate Claim In Georgia?
These are two different case types that are often filed by the same party, though not always. The major difference between the two is the type of damages covered in the case. In the case of a wrongful death lawsuit, damages cover the value of the deceased’s life, which includes tangible and intangible elements. An estate claim seeks compensation for existing financial suffering caused by the death, such as funeral expenses and medical bills.
The loss of a spouse or a parent is a terrible ordeal only made worse when you know that someone else is responsible for their death. We are here to help you receive compensation for the suffering you experience because of their passing. This includes clearly defined financial losses as well as more complex damages.
We will file a claim on your behalf to start the process and then spend our time fighting for your legal rights while you focus on healing. Take a moment to call us at (800) 693-7833 for a completely free case evaluation.